Patricia Garcia is example No. 1 of the progress being made by the Puerto Rico Golf Association (PRGA). She is the top ranked 18-and-under girl on the island, has earned a scholarship with Texas A&M, and was tied for the lead after the first round of the Puerto Rico Junior Open.
“I have been in the junior program of the PRGA nine years, and each year they get better,” Garcia said. “They look for opportunities for us around the world, like the World Am (where she has played three times). We learn so much there.”
The AJGA is making its first visit ever to Puerto Rico, thanks to the efforts of PRGA President Sidney Wolf, who also brought the PGA TOUR to town for the Puerto Rico Open.
“Sidney is doing an amazing job,” Garcia said. “Having the PGA TOUR event here, we can see all the pros. And to have the AJGA here is an honor for us. It’s an incredible opportunity. Bringing really great players here helps us see what other players do, so we can keep improving.”
Garcia credits a few others who have helped develop the next generation of Puerto Rican golfers.
“Julio Soto (PRGA Executive Director) and Marilina Silen (PRGA Junior Golf Program Director) are always looking for the best for us,” she said. “The PRGA provides practice for us with Dean Spriddle and Wilfredo Morales and they are trying to improve every part of our game.”
Spriddle was brought in last year from Canada to be the National Director of Coaching for the PRGA, while Morales is a Puerto Rican professional who played in the 2008 Puerto Rico Open. The result of all these efforts for Garcia is a college golf scholarship with Texas A&M, where she will begin in August. But that’s not the end of the line.
“I really want to turn pro,” Garcia said. “I know it’s a lot of work, but if we have goals and work for them, we can reach them.”